Soul Begin Playoff Run at Home
PHILADELPHIA, PA - The Philadelphia Soul (7-5) will begin their title defense this weekend as they host the Baltimore Brigade (7-5) in the first game of the home-and-home Playoff Series, presented by Colonial Marble & Granite, on Sunday, July 15th with kickoff at 6:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network and 97.5 The Fanatic. The winner of the Series advances to ArenaBowl XXXI.
The teams enter the 2018 playoffs about as evenly matched on the stat sheet as you can be, which sets the stage for an exciting game and series. Both finished the regular season with 7-5 records, while splitting their head-to-head matchups two game apiece. The Soul scored 612 points during the regular season while the Brigade were only a touchdown shy at 605. Defensively, Baltimore allowed 562 point and Philadelphia surrendered 577. Overall, Over the course of the 12-game season, only eight points separated the two squads in overall point differential, with Baltimore having the slight edge here.
However, there is one interesting stat to keep in mind as Sunday's game in South Philadelphia draws near. While Philadelphia was consistent at home and on the road when it came to point differential (plus-16 at home and plus-19 road), Baltimore was clearly a better team in their own backyard with a plus-60 differential at home this season. However, they were minus-17 on the road. So thanks to the unique setup of this year's playoffs, securing the points advantage in this first of two games may prove to be crucial for both teams.
Taking a look at the players on the field, Arena Football begins and ends at the quarterback position, and this weekend's matchup pits two of the best in the business against one another. Both the Brigade's Randy Hippeard and the Soul's Dan Raudabaugh are former League MVP's and Offensive Players of the Year, which should lead to plenty of scoring on Sunday. Hippeard, the reigning MVP, finished the regular season as the league-leader in completions (280), and finished second in both yards (2,901) and touchdowns (61). Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh, the 2015 MVP, battled through injury this season to total 145 completions on 209 attempts for 1,728 yards and 36 touchdowns.
Thanks to the familiarity between the teams after four contests already this season, it is unlikely that a single skill position player will dominate the stat sheet, so the Soul's depth at the wide receiver position could play a factor. Over the four games played against Baltimore this season, five different players hauled in touchdown catches with Darius "Money" Reynolds pacing the group with eight. WR Aaron Wascha has six, despite only playing in two of the four games.
However, if there is one player on the Brigade roster that's likely to prove that theory wrong, it would be WR Brandon Thompkins. In every game against the Soul this season, Thompkins emerged as the Brigade's leading receiver, while also having an impact on special teams as their return man.
On the defensive side of the ball, this game is all about the defensive backs. For the Soul, that means James Romain and Dwayne Hollis and for the Brigade, keep an eye on Virgil Gray and Joe Powell. Both Powell and Romain tied for second in the league with four interceptions during the regular season, while Hollis and Gray led their respective units in total tackles this year.
Will the Soul feed off the energy of the home crowd on Sunday and take advantage of the Brigade's struggles on the road this season? Or will the Brigade reverse the trend and head back to Baltimore needing only to hold serve next weekend in order to punch their ticket to ArenaBowl XXXI?
Playoff packs and Family Four Packs for the July 15th game are on sale now at www.PhiladelphiaSoul.com. Single game tickets are also available at www.WellsFargoCenterPhilly.com.
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Arena Football League Stories from July 10, 2018
- Soul Begin Playoff Run at Home - Philadelphia Soul
- Valor Begin Postseason Play Saturday Night against Empire - Washington Valor
- Brigade Kick off Postseason Play Sunday in Philadelphia - Baltimore Brigade
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